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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

4o6        HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

apparatus like that of Seguin. Her success with these children
led her to ask whether the same methods would not give even
better results with normal children. Thus almost by accident
she hit upon two of the fundamental ideas of her system: first,
that education must always be an individual business; and,
second, that the individual development is best directed by
means of a graded series of educational apparatus* The ex-
tension of her methods to ordinary children found justification
in practice, and her system developed gradually. It became
evident that the methods which enabled the feeble-minded
children to be educated called out the initiative of the normal
children and made them able to educate themselves. And so
there came to her two more principles: that all education should
be self-education, and that the children should be allowed the
freedom necessary for this self-education by the substitution
of an impersonal directress for the ordinary teacher.

Her ideas found embodiment in the didactic material, or as
she now prefers to call it, the development material. Acting
on a psychological fallacy to which doctors are specially prone,
she made a beginning of systematic education with the training
of the senses. For this she invented and adapted twenty-six
pieces of apparatus which she applied successively for the im-
provement of the different senses. In this way the Jittle ones
learn to distinguish different degrees of rough and smooth, hot
and cold, large and small, and become able to match colours and
fit insets into their proper places. The second stage comes at
the completion of this training when the learners turn to writing,
reading and counting. Here, thanks to the preparatory sense
training, the course of self-education runs easily, and there is a
sudden discovery of power to write, etc. At the third stage,
reached in the elementary school period up to eleven, the children
are provided with fresh apparatus to enable them to learn such
subjects as arithmetic, grammar and geometry.

Dr. Montessori's most valuable contribution to educational
progress is the idea of individual education, guided by carefully
planned material which has been graded in accordance with
school-room experiment and experience. Her system has its
limitations. It ignores the play activities of children. It takes
little account of the interplay of individual and group, It seems
to have no place for the personal influences on which the spiritual